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Following the emergence of super-slim, pebble-sized flash players like the second-gen iPod Shuffle and Creative's own Zen Stone range, you may have thought you'd seen the last of USB-key MP3 players. Think again. Creative, along with Sony, is still cranking out players that plug directly into your PC. These can be handy -- no cables required -- but the need to have a USB plug in the product can add precious millimetres and lead to unimaginative form factors.
The 4GB lighter-sized T200 is no dag in the style stakes, but with its rectangular shape and circular navigation key it does have a first-gen Nano feel about it. The T200's teeny colour LCD and the fact that the it comes in black, white and pink are just enough to prevent it being seen as a Johnny-come-lately to Apple's pioneer party.
The supplied headphones are your standard black cheapo variety, looking and feeling similar to the version accompanying Samsung's recent players: black earbuds with removable foam cushions that require a bit of effort to wedge into your ear canals.
It's the little things that make all the difference. At first glance, the T200's features list is standard stuff: FM tuner; voice recorder. Delve a little deeper and the nifty extras start to surface, such as six colour options for the display and the southpaw-friendly ability to rotate the display 180 degrees. There's a clock but no stopwatch -- this fitness-focused feature is found in the and Sony's NW-E003.
Here's a feature that may surprise, as it's not listed in the specs list: the T200 is compatible with iTunes. Plug that sucker in and it'll be recognised in the left column as a "Nomad MuVo". Naturally there are limitations -- the player only works with the Mac version and if you've loaded songs using Windows, they won't appear. You also can't transfer tracks bought from the store as the protected AAC format does not play nice with players outside the iPod family. Still, if iTunes has long been your music management app of choice, you'll appreciate the ability to use it with a non-Apple device. The forbidden nature of it even feels a bit naughty.
If you're not a Mac user you can go with simple drag-and-drop, Windows Media Player or Creative's included Media Lite music management app. The packaging for the player is so compact that there's no room for an installation CD, so the software is loaded onto the T200. Calling it a "music management app" is a bit highfalutin; it's essentially a window that allows you to copy files across. Oh, it shows the charging status of the player and allows you to limit the volume of all tracks. There's nothing wrong with simplicity, but it'll be a stark adjustment if you're accustomed to using iTunes or Media Player.